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Defining the Discographic SelfDesert Island Discs in Context$
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Julie Brown, Nicholas Cook, and Stephen Cottrell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266175

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266175.001.0001

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Adrift or ashore? Desert Island Discs and celebrity culture

Adrift or ashore? Desert Island Discs and celebrity culture

(p.93) 5 Adrift or ashore? Desert Island Discs and celebrity culture
Defining the Discographic Self

Jo Littler

, Julie Brown, Nicholas Cook, Stephen Cottrell
British Academy

Why do we want to imagine celebrities as adrift, as banished from the rest of the world, and yet, at the same time, to find out more about them? The idea of celebrities as ‘intimate strangers’, with the media providing us with privileged access to the alleged ‘real’ person ‘behind’ a distanced, glossy façade of superstardom, has long been a constituent element of modern celebrity culture. Desert Island Discs’ capacity to use and perpetuate such motifs has been a key reason for its success. At the same time, the programme also registers shifts in celebrity culture: towards a less white and male-dominated demographic, towards the hyper-intimate confessional, and towards expanding celebrity power. This chapter considers how Desert Island Discs connects to changing formations of celebrity culture, to ideas of meritocracy, and to a social culture of individualisation.

Keywords:   celebrity, individualism, intimacy, meritocracy, power

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